Supervisors Support New FOIA Exemption

Loudoun County supervisors this year supported a new exemption to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act allowing elected officials to withhold the recipients of their email newsletters from disclosure.

The bill, proposed by Del. Wendy W. Gooditis (D-10), allows elected officials keep private contact information for people who sign up to receive communications such as district newsletters. A similar exemption already covered contact information for people who sign up for communications from the government or legislative body as a whole.

The Board of Supervisors also opposed a law passed this year which requires the government upon request to release investigative files for criminal investigations or proceedings that are not ongoing. That bill also allows an unusually long window for releasing those files, up to 60 additional work days at the government’s discretion.

The county government supported no bills to expand access to public records.

Almost all exemptions to transparency law are voluntary; there are few records a government body cannot disclose if willing, or that elected officials cannot discuss publicly. Penalties for violating the Freedom of Information Act are fines for individual employees, and only if a court finds they “willfully and knowingly” violated the law.

There are 147 numbered paragraphs of exemptions in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

In this term, supervisors have sought to tamp down further on public disclosures, adopting a rule in their rules of order calling to censure members who disclose discussions from closed-door meetings, which is legal under state law.

2 thoughts on “Supervisors Support New FOIA Exemption

  • 2021-05-14 at 9:33 am

    Of course the BoS supports opacity and secrecy.

    In other news, the sun rose in the East this morning.

  • 2021-05-14 at 4:33 pm

    Just like a democrat. They don’t want the public to know what they are doing. This exempts them from disclosing who they send their newsletters to because people signed up for them. Well I’m on most of their lists and never signed up for any of them so they are lying and mis-appropriating government lists for their own political use. Trying to hide what they do from the public. Shame on you

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